Monday, September 19, 2016

South Shore - 2016

This Post will get split into a few parts (the first one already made) due to my length of stay, sheer volume of information and the files that deserve to be examined still in my helmet cam.  For the first time this season, I actually took some video plus there are quite literally thousands of still images, at least a few of which I’m hoping to save and will add to my story.

Rather than end with the statistics, I’ll lead off with them this time.

Standard Operating Procedure for me would be for me to sit down with joy and much anticipation, map out and create GPS Routes at home to follow.  Sometimes they’re day-long, other times I split them up into AM and PM files.  For this trip I created a single one before the event and that was to run the northernmost section of Chad’s Trans Wisconsin Adventure Trail, ~120 miles starting at the tippy top north at Point Detour and heading south from there as far as Clam Lake.

Jim told the story (and photographed) the ride as well as anyone has.

I’ve ridden the southern 1/3 and the northern 1/3 of the ‘Trail, missing a section in the central part of the state primarily because my GPS locked up and following my maps became too tedious.  Done over two weekends on the TW200, the far north section was my favorite, that due to the fact that many of the roads in the southern part of the state were already familiar.  The photos w/captions are on my Picasa photo pages; this winter I’ll resurrect the trip and make it a Post here.  Hopefully I’ll be able to remember enough to tell THAT old story.

You'd think by looking at this capture of my Tracks that I'd visited every single road in the region.....

 But check this out once zoomed in.....

Most definitely more exploring to do.

There’s no doubt that South Shore adventures simply need to be annual trips.  This, my 3rd time has to be the best so far (5 days/4 nights only helps).  Number 1 was on the TW200, last time I had the Baby KLR and this time the Big KLR, each trip around this very same time of year.  It’s a very good time to be north.

Early Wednesday I was on my way, everything having been loaded the day(s) before.  Taking the scenic way up with a grocery and ice stop along the way, arrival at the Herbster City Campground happened at 10:30 and I was very pleased to see my favorite campsite still available.

Long, long before 11AM the bike was unloaded, I was suited up and on my way, Maggie’s in Bayfield my lunch destination.  This was my one and only trip to Bayfield all weekend.
Chicken Stir-Fry Special was…..

After lunch, it was up Bluebird Road out of Red Cliff to Point Detour, essentially the northernmost road in Wisconsin. 

It seems only logical that most people run the Trans 'Trail from south to north, at least I'll bet that's what the majority of riders do and that was part of the reason I thought it would be fun to go the other way for my short foray along the route.  It didn't take me long to discover that someone was just ahead of me, doing essentially the same thing.  Tracks were "on the right", at least to the extent that we do fire roads on the right.

I can say (could say a lot of things) with great certainty that the rider ahead of me was 1) riding a Big Bore bike, loaded much heavier than I was and 2) he/she got to the end of their day a great deal more exhausted than I did.

And some distance later, more 3 point contact.....

I rode south of US 2 as far as the Delta Diner that first afternoon, then high tailed it back through Iron River, Port Wing and finally to the campground at Herbster.  This NC Ducati was in the campground and I'm still kicking myself for not going to seek him out.

 Dinner time and I was ready....

 Wednesday's already featured sunset....

After a very leisurely start Thursday morning, I worked my way south for a late breakfast at the Delta Diner to pick up the 'Trail where I'd left off the day before.

 Mary filled me in on the featured menu items but only after describing the change in built in, living wages for the employees and any monies left on the table go to local charities.  Pedro's Mex Benny was a favorite last time and once again enjoyed immensely.  Eggs Benedict Tex-Mex is how I'd describe it.  If you're north, if you haven't eaten here at the Diner, you should give it a try.  It's fun and the food is fantastic.  I didn't have to wait but your mileage may vary.

I hadn't gone very far before discovering that my Big Bore Heavily Laden bike was again not far ahead of me.

 There was not only some fancy footwork here but hip and butt action as well.  I could just about read the brand name of riding gear in the moist sand.....

 In all of 600+ miles, I never went down and dabbed only once.  Luck and the ability to Aim and Gas It saved me more times than I can count.  For being big and tall, we did remarkably well if I say so myself.

The Grandview Rock.....

 Coffee and gas stop in Clam Lake, as far as I was going on the Trans Wisconsin.  Recent storms and 500 year rains were very tough on area roads and trees, something you'll see further on.  As a result, Deer Lick Lake Road was closed, marked as such and stubborn ol' me proceeded, even after trying to ignore my Big Bore Heavily Laden buddy had a track In and a track Out.  Sure enough, road closed. Studying tracker-style, I could tell that he'd made his detour north up to US 63 and I chose to go south and avoid the highway.  That was the last of our detected ride together.

I had left Erik a message that I was in the neighborhood and attempted a call to my homebound wife here but our call was interrupted by the extremely noisy machines across the way.

Headed NE to Mellen on GG towards Copper Falls State Park.  After hiking to some of the falls, I hit the highway (max speed 65mph) up to Ashland, Washburn, Cornucopia and finally back to Herbster.  There were detours from Mellen around High Bridge on Hwy 13 where the heavy rains were devastating to the highway there.  There was a stretch there I would call undulating, humps and deep ditches, almost valleys.  In every single low spot, new pavement and alongside the road, severely mangled culverts; the many inches of rain too quick had obviously turned the road into a hopscotch game.  I was amazed at how well and how quickly the repairs must have been made.  Every one of those culverts was quite a spectacle.

Back at camp, dinner and solid grey over Lake Superior.

Friday was my serious (sometimes wet) fire road day....

 Very large canine tracks by my reckoning....

I stopped here for a good long while, this small little marker looked to be a grave.  A lovely, lonely place to be respectful.  The sun was playing tag with the holes in the clouds here and it was morphing from bright to dark, these colors much more alive than what I managed to capture through the Lumix lens.

If it's not one thing it's another......

See this puddle??  See those very shiny and 'clean' sidewalls??  I had just come through here, Helmet Cam off and proudly (after the fact) needed to document success.

One must always stop at Looseasagoose Road......

Pete and Deb were there with their son Friday, it was a pleasure to meet you two and find out how much we seemed to have in common.  Pete, that old Elsinore would have been right at home on the trails with me.  NOT a Big Bore Heavily Laden machine...

 Directly across the road from me, later Ansel would be camping in this spot.  Talk about a small world.  Down here in SE Minnesota, just like in this campsite, Ansel lives and works only minutes north of me.  Nice to meet you Ansel and Ride Safe!

 The end of another Grand Day.

Saturday's weather was a mixed up mush of almost everything.  It rained and the sun shone but most of the time it favored the wet part of the spectrum or was awfully close to it.

Since it was wet and threatening to continue, I made my way to The Gym.  I stopped here last time and peeked inside.  This time I took my little laptop hoping to at the very least upload some photos and possibly even create a quick Post.  After 45 minutes of never really being able to connect I gave up but spending time in the space is really something.  Open 24/7, it's the definition of a Public Space.  Instructions inside...."clean up after yourself, turn off the lights, put the thermostat back where you found it, make sure the toilets aren't running......"

Bear hunters were everywhere, many wondered if I was OK if they caught me stopped.  I saw only one bear and that one would no longer be roaming the woods.  This hunter did stop, here moving very slowly watching for sign along the edge of the road.  Saturday afternoon one white pickup stopped, two young guys inside and wondered what I was doing out there..."we've seen you all over the place...." 

Yes I was.

 The fire tower just north of Friendly Valley Road

Cell coverage was finally excellent here and Mrs. Coop wished me a Happy Anniversary at this very spot. (our 33rd)

 I'm thinking the 4 wheelers and their hill climbing up this very steep sand will one day send this tower crashing off the precipice.

 The life along the edges of the road, even where the big trees aren't.

 Centered exactly over the bike is the fire tower I'd just been at.

Gates protecting the former site of another fire tower.  Elevation here on my GPS said 1408 ft and those recent storms that were so very wet blew so very hard and had trees here and elsewhere bent, broken and uprooted.  Many of these high spots were an absolute mess of tangled trunks and branches.  I hopped off here and hoped to walk up to the site of the former tower but the downed trees were simply too much.  Following the road was impossible.

After so many hours of riding down hallways of trees, this large clearcut area was entrancingly beautiful.  The 4 wheelers and side-by-sides were everywhere.

Lunch in Iron River and a chance to get out of the light rain.

Back in Cornucopia and a stop at Ehler's Store....

Sunday morning's moon rise....

A group of kayakers from Western Illinois protected Bark Bay.

Loaded and headed for home, the long way around.  My mandatory stop with whatever rig/bike in front of Peg's grandfather's fishing boat.  The Twin Sisters is getting pretty rough.

Two pounds of smoked white fish from Halvorson's went from this cooler into mine.

I'm hoping that at least a few of the still shots and short videos that HAVE to be still in my helmet cam will be worth sharing.  To be continued......


  1. Thanks for sharing! An awesome adventure.

    1. Eric,
      I thought often while riding of how easy it would have been to have you along. We all appreciate different types of'd have liked and been very comfortable there.

  2. great name for a road: looseasagoose...

    1. It's a short, not-through road but I'm quite sure that it's someone's address.

  3. Great stuff, I've got to get off the pavement more often. The next tires for the wr250x will be more dirt oriented.
    Looking at your maps, you were pretty close to my place. You'll have to stop in next time you get up this way.

    1. Erik, other than being right there in Herbster I had sort of forgotten about where you are....until I got much closer to Clam Lake, remembering how far south of US 2 I was. That's when I sent you the email.

  4. ... Erik.. in order for Mr. Cooper to visit ya... you'll have to plow under yer driveway.. add a mix of dirt, sand, pot hole or two.. a running creek would be a nice touch. Maybe rent a bear.... :)

  5. Happy Anniversary! Looking at the map I'd of thought that riding every road was the goal. Nice write up.

    1. Richard, thanks! ALL roads weren't my goal, at least not yet. I did make every attempt to continue turning on to new ones. The Tracks don't show it all that well but there are some there with multiple layers....I did the best I could to keep hunting down fresh ones.

  6. Happy Belated Anniversary you two!!

    Those roads are begging to be ridden by the TW. It was hard to tell in the photos whether you were experiencing sand or soft dirt in the spots where the big bore was ahead of you.

    1. Thanks Brandy, it was a celebratory day! :)

      You are correct, the TW is exactly what these roads need. The big (and TALL)KLR was sort of a personal challenge. More than likely the TW200 will go up next time, tire pressure dropped considerably with a fresh dual sport tire on the rear.

      It is rather difficult to pick out the surfaces on the images. Hopefully the videos will make it clearer. There isn't a lot of dirt most places and if there is, it's very loamy. If you can perceive any depth or note color changes, it was normally sand. Getting in and staying in the ruts was mandatory. Everyone that rides with me could tell you that I'm a Sight Seer. Keeping on top of or rather in the bottom of the sand ruts is an absolute and doesn't allow much latitude for getting it wrong. There's a sinking feeling when the front wheel starts plowing and the rotational speed no longer equals forward speed.

      Doggone fun though!!!

  7. Great job....I wish I still had the old Honda and would have loved to have done some riding with you. You just never know who you may run into when venturing into the great Northern Wisconsin wilderness. It was our pleasure meeting you my friend! Keep the wheels rolling!

    1. Thanks Pete, appreciate that. I'll be visiting your site and you'll be hearing more from me very soon.

      Great to meet you and Deb in such a fantastic place.

  8. Thanks for sharing your travels. I always enjoy seeing where your wheels have taken you...I think that Mike and I will have to try the Delta Diner sometime...

    1. Speedy, thank you. The one word that best describes what I like doing on the bike is "exploring" and I'd do it on 4 wheels or 10. It's by far the most fun for me on 2 with an engine that runs.